BAK Critical Readers in Artistic Practice
Marion von Osten

Once We Were Artists (A BAK Critical Reader in Artists’ Practice) BAK Critical Readers in Artistic Practice

By Maria Hlavajova, Tom Holert, Hidde van Greuningen, Lucy Lopez, Whitney Stark, Marion von Osten, Kader Attia, Sabeth Buchmann, Judith Hopf, Diedrich Diederichsen, Brian Kuan Wood, Isabell Lorey, Angela McRobbie, Peter Spillmann, Marina Vishmidt, Tirdad

Marion von Osten: Once We Were Artists (A BAK Critical Reader in Artists’ Practice) critically maps the political commitment of von Osten’s influential work to feminism, theories of labor, knowledge production, education, and (post)coloniality. Von Osten’s practice systematically escapes strictures of canonization by scrutinizing, obstructing, and unsettling divisions categorizing art, art object, history making, theory, authority, curating, organizing, and teaching, opening up routes to radical re-readings of the contemporary. The contributions to this book discuss some of the many aspects of this situated, collaborative, process-oriented work so as to provide a locus from which to further engage her transversal practice, as well as the subject of the artist at present.

Marion von Osten: Once We Were Artists is co-edited by Maria Hlavajova and Tom Holert. It includes contributions by cultural practitioners Kader Attia; Sabeth Buchmann & Judith Hopf; Diedrich Diederichsen; Tom Holert; Brian Kuan Wood; Isabell Lorey; Angela McRobbie; Peter Spillmann; Marina Vishmidt; and Tirdad Zolghadr. The reader is designed by Kummer & Herrman, Utrecht and published by BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht and Valiz, Amsterdam.

Marion von Osten: Once We Were Artists is the second in the BAK Critical Readers in Artists’ Practice Series, initiated in 2012 with a publication on the artistic and theoretical work of Rabih Mroué. In parallel to BAK’s acclaimed series of Critical Readers in Contemporary Art, this publishing line examines the practice and body of work of a key international contemporary artist through a range of critical essays written by curators, art historians, theorists, critics, and artists. The readers put the focus on generating new insights into the practice of contemporary artists through in-depth critical intellectual engagement with their work across a spectrum of perspectives and critical approaches. In addition to a selection of images of the artist’s works, the material is augmented by an extensive bibliography, other background information, and an index, making each book a significant source of research and documentation on the featured artist’s work.

The publication can be ordered via Valiz.

Table of Contents

Once We Were Artists

Maria Hlavajova and Tom Holert in Conversation with Marion von Osten


Kader Attia and Marion von Osten

Friends in Context

Sabeth Buchmann and Judith Hopf

The Best of Three Worlds

Diedrich Diederichsen

In the Company of Others: Marion von Osten’s Building Practice

Tom Holert

The Horses

Brian Kuan Wood

Becoming Common: Precarization as Political Constituting (A Revision)

Isabell Lorey

Notes on Cultural Production: Marion von Osten, Art, and the Birmingham Contemporary Cultural Studies Tradition

Angela McRobbie

Our Relation to All These Places Is Operative: Practices Beyond Curating

Peter Spillmann

Beneath the Atelier, the Desert: Critique, Institutional and Infrastructural

Marina Vishmidt

The Transversal Imperative

Tirdad Zolghadr


Editors: Maria Hlavajova and Tom Holert

Managing Editor: Hidde van Greuningen

Research and Editorial Support: Hidde van Greuningen, Lucy Lopez, and Whitney Stark

Language Editing and Proofing: Aileen Derieg, Cielo Lutino, and Whitney Stark

Design: Kummer & Herrman, Utrecht

Published by: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht and Valiz, Amsterdam

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 978-90-77288-23-8

Price: € 19,90

Book Launch


24.06.2017 10.30 uur

Once We Were Artists


Learning Place, FORMER WEST: Documents,
Learning Place, FORMER WEST: Documents, Constellation, Prospects, Berlin, 18–24 March 2013, photo: Ernie Buts
Andy Wang, Chasing Rainbow, 2017
Andy Wang, Chasing Rainbow, 2017
Wall chart depicting an international ne
Wall chart depicting an international network of avant-garde magazines from the 1920s in the section “Platforms of the Avant-Garde: Der Sturm in Berlin and Mavo in Tokyo” of Hello World: Revising a Collection, Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für